“Observations About Eggs” takes place over the course of cross-state airplane ride. Where did the idea for this story come from?
I have this tendency to become briefly hypnotized by objects and processes. A few years back, I was poaching an egg and found myself staring into the pot and got a little lost. I made a note about the experience and then promptly forgot about it. Last summer, I spent some time writing in a cabin in the White Mountains, and I rediscovered that file on my computer. The story poured out of me after that. I set it during a cross-country flight because I wanted the story’s scribe—an unnamed woman—to be trapped next to the eccentric, unsettling speaker for a long while. I’ve had to spend many hours at the mercy of people exactly like him. Planes are interesting and terrifying like that.
Why did you decide to tell it in list form?
I’m very fond of formal conceits, and I love bending, stretching, and manipulating story structures to see what kind of weight and narrative they can accommodate. Sometimes these experiments fall flat on their face—in the end, the form has to serve some sort of purpose for the story, or else it becomes distractingly arbitrary—but I was really pleased with “Observations About Eggs.” I imagine the listener nodding and discreetly jotting down each item after he says it, tolerating the monologue until she can’t anymore.
Do you think any other object could inspire such a complex set of observations?
I think a writer—or any other person who spends their time observing—would be able to meditate in a similar way on any number of objects. I think it’s less about the object itself and more a reflection of the mind of the observer.
How would you react if you actually sat next to this person on a flight?
Listen long enough to have a good story to tell later, and then pull out a book.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I recently finished up my story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, so hopefully, that’ll find a place in the world. I’m also working on an untitled novel.
Spread the word!